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General Questions

Spring 2021 Semester


General Questions

Will any classes have an in-person component?

All classes will be online. Departments and academic advisors will be working with students preparing to graduate in this academic year to address specific needs that may require in-person instruction. Select research-based or experiential courses that cannot occur online may be made available in a very limited manner.

How will fall online instruction be different from spring?

Expanded fall online classes will deliver the same high-quality American University education featuring our expert faculty. We learned from what worked well in our spring online classes and the areas that needed improvement. Our extensive preparations for the AU Forward blended instruction model will apply directly to a primarily online learning environment. The faculty worked tirelessly over the summer to design courses that will engage students no matter their location, and our technology investments will bolster connections and collaborations.

Will courses follow the modalities (e.g., live/synchronous, asynchronous, etc.) that were announced in July?

Yes, most courses will follow the announced modality for the online component. There will be no in-person component for the vast majority of courses. Any adjustments to a course’s instructional model will be communicated by the faculty member.

Is there any change to the calendar for the fall semester?

The academic calendar will remain in place, with online classes beginning on August 24 (WCL on August 21) and concluding with finals the week of December 7. Existing online graduate programs will continue in their traditional format.

Are health and safety protocols still in place on campus?

Yes, the AU community is expected to adhere to required health and safety guidelines established by the university, the District of Columbia, and other local jurisdictions. While our modified fall 2020 approach will further reduce density on campus, it is important that we all continue following health and safety guidelines at all times, including wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands frequently. These are critical steps that will help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

I already purchased my plane ticket to come back to campus. Will AU reimburse me?

We suggest that folks reach out to airlines to check if their tickets are refundable or eligible for credit. 

Will AU still offer COVID-19 testing?

COVID-19 testing will be available for students in the DC region, conducted on the AU campus, primarily at the Student Health Center.

How does the fall decision affect international students?

International students, whether living in the United States or another country, will be able to take online classes. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will provide additional information to these students. For more information and international student specific FAQs, please visit International Student & Scholar Services.

Where can I get more information on COVID-19? 

For up-to-date information, please check the following websites:

What is the plan for spring 2021?

We are hopeful that the AU Forward plan for a residential experience and blended class instruction may be possible in the spring as conditions improve. All operating decisions will continue to be based on the best available information about the trajectory of the pandemic, the safety of our community, updated scientific and medical guidance, directives from local governments, COVID-19 testing capacity, and the ability to effectively support community health through preventative measures. We will provide updates about our planning throughout the fall semester.

How will COVID-19 affect implementation, organization, and the filing of Title IX complaints?

COVID-19 has not and will not affect the Title IX complaint process. The only change is there may be limited or no ability to meet in person to discuss, investigate, and adjudicate complaints. For more details, please visit the Equity and Title IX Office website.

Spring 2021 Semester

When will there be a decision on spring classes? What modalities are being considered?

As the pandemic continues, we developing a plan for spring that fulfills our goals – protecting the health and safety of our community, advancing our educational and research mission, and contributing to the overall response in the DC region. We will provide an update on the spring semester plan and course modalities by the end of October. Our goal is to increase in-person curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students in a safe manner. This summer’s work creating the AU Forward plan provides a strong foundation and teams are working on all aspects of our operations. We also continue to collect data and input from the community and from health experts across the world. As the pandemic continues to evolve throughout the fall and the flu season, we know we cannot return to completely normal operations immediately, but we are working to ramp up more opportunities as health and safety conditions allow.

Will there be online options in the spring for students who are currently outside DC?

Yes, we are exploring instructional options for the spring, with the goal of increasing in-person curricular and co-curricular opportunities in a safe manner. For students who continue to reside outside of the DC area, we will continue to provide options for continuing their studies and staying on track to complete their degree.

Will the spring course days/times remain the same as they are on the schedule?

Yes, as with the fall semester, classes will follow the traditional schedule as published by the registrar.

Will the tuition and fee discounts continue in the spring?

As part of our planning for spring, we are evaluating financial considerations including tuition and fees. Further information will be provided with the overall spring update by the end of October.


Will there be any gatherings or events on campus?

No, all events are canceled.

What is the status of the special in-person ceremonies for May 2020 graduates?

Due to the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to online instruction for the fall semester, the university made the difficult decision to postpone the make-up ceremonies for May 2020 graduates and Fall Commencement ceremony for August, September, and December 2020 graduates scheduled for this December. American University is determined to host in-person ceremonies to celebrate the achievements of all 2020 graduates when health and safety conditions permit. We are unfortunately unable to announce specific dates at this time.

The achievements of our Spring 2020 graduates were celebrated during an online commencement celebration which aired on Saturday, May 9. Videos from the celebration are available in our archive

What are the details of the Fall 2020 Commencement Celebration?

We plan to honor our summer and fall graduates and mark the moment of graduation with an online commencement celebration on Sunday, December 13 (time to be determined). The Fall 2020 Commencement Celebration will air on the AU commencement website. Registration is not required for the online celebration. A digital program listing the names of graduates and degree candidates (as of mid-November) will be available on the commencement site in the days leading up to the celebration. Celebration information will be shared via email and the commencement website in the coming months. We anticipate inviting graduates back to participate in special 2020 ceremonies where they will receive individual recognition as soon as we are able to safely do so.